Television

NGC to unveil 'The Gospel of Judas' on 9 April

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MUMBAI: What if an ancient gospel were rediscovered that offered a radically different perspective on a man that history has painted as the ultimate villain? What if this account turned Jesus' betrayal on its head, and in it the villain became a hero?

On 9 April, National Geographic Channel (NGC) presents the world premiere of The Gospel of Judas at 8 pm .

This is a two-hour global event that traces the incredible story of what has happened to the Gospel of Judas since it was found, the recent authentication process and analysis, and key insight gleaned from its laborious translation and interpretation. The ancient document, the only known surviving copy of the Gospel of Judas, was introduced to the public today at a press conference at the National Geographic Society in Washington. The timing is apr what with Holy Week nearly upon us.

The New Testament says that Judas Iscariot is the disciple who betrayed Jesus. For centuries his name has been synonymous with treachery and deceit. This gospel tells a different story. Discovered by chance in the 1970s, sold twice and stolen once, the gospel's condition had deteriorated severely. The race is now on to preserve its pages before they turn to dust. But, when was this gospel written, and by whom?

The research and documentary reveal details contained within the document as well as key sections translated from its ancient Coptic script. A dream team of biblical scholars and scientists verifies its authenticity. The authentication process, involving radiocarbon dating, ink analysis, multispectral imaging, contextual evidence and more - is covered in depth. The special also examines the modern history of the document since it was found, including the exhaustive conservation process.

The Gospel of Judas presents a lost version of the last days of Jesus, using dramatic recreations to portray and clarify the complex story of intrigue and politics of the earliest days of Christianity and to portray the contents of the gospel itself. The gospel reframes Judas as the disciple closest to Jesus, who committed his act of betrayal at Jesus' behest.

The Gospel of Judas turns Judas's act of betrayal into an act of obedience. And so for that reason, Judas emerges as the champion and he ends up being envied and even cursed and resented by the other disciples.

This surviving Gospel of Judas manuscript was likely written down sometime around A.D. 300, but the first known reference to a Gospel of Judas was around A.D. 180, when the influential early Christian bishop Irenaeus denounced it as heretical. By then there were many accounts of Jesus' life and times written by various early Christians in the 150 years after his death, in more than 30 gospels. Irenaeus helped clarify the Christian message by arguing that there should be just four approved Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. All others, including the Gospel of Judas, were branded as off-limits by early Church fathers.

NGC India senior VP programming Joy Bhattacharjya said, "The Gospel of Judas on National Geographic Channel is the television event of the year as it has already created excitement worldwide and brings to light information that will make us rethink our beliefs. The Gospel of Judas along with other films from the Secret Bible Week reveal facts, beliefs, conspiracies, secrecies and a lot more about Christianity, which our viewers will get to witness for the first time."

Pages from the document will be exhibited at the National Geographic Museum at Explorers Hall in Washington. Once the conservation process is complete, the document will be delivered to its country of origin, Egypt, and housed in Cairo's Coptic Museum.

The Society is sharing information about the Gospel of Judas in a feature article in the May issue of National Geographic magazine, a web site at nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel, a lecture at the Society on April 10, and two books that will be published on 6 April. National Geographic Books also will publish an illustrated, critical edition of the codex in the coming year.

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